If beauty's only Skin Deep, no wonder eleven year old me, sneaking around to watch Blake Edwards' Skin Deep found it one beautiful comedy. My friend wouldn't stop laughing about the movie, especially the love scene gone infamously wrong; I daresay it was his favorite. Already a John Ritter fan, I wasn't disappointed. I wasn't old enough to appreciate directors, or wasn't around any committed movie buffs who would keep up, but over the years, I finally got to meet the Pink Panther and when I discovered Peter Sellers, I'd never be the same.
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Blake was a guy who bucked the system, and had the foresight to realize comedy was a good place to stretch a story over into taboo ground, which was everywhere to be found in early 1960s America. His adult comedies were talked about muchly in the 1980s, though I was still years from discovering his famous, but R rated, work.
I remembered being enraptured by Julie Andrews after The Muppet Show, never realizing she was married to one of the most groundbreaking directors in 20th century Hollywood.
Legendary film director Blake Edwards, who died on Thursday aged 88, was a veteran of the big screen. His family history extended virtually the entire length of American motion pictures.
He was born William Blake Crump on July 26, 1922, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His parents divorced when he was young and his mother remarried to Jack McEdwards, a production manager in Hollywood.
His step-grandfather was J. Gordon Edwards, a pioneering director of silent films, including more than 20 with the exotic vamp Theda Bara.
Mr Edwards after receiving an honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences during the 76th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Photo: Mark J. Terrill/PA
The young Blake and his family moved to Hollywood three years later, and he grew up on his father’s movie sets.
Blake Edwards began in films as an actor, playing small roles in such movies as A Guy Named Joe and Ten Gentlemen From West Point.With John Champion, he wrote a Western, Panhandle, which he produced and acted in for the quickie studio, Monogram. He followed with Stampede.
In 1947, Mr Edwards turned to radio and created the hard-boiled “Richard Diamond, Private Detective” for Dick Powell; it was converted to television in 1957, starring Mr Powell with Mary Tyler Moore as his secretary, whose face is never seen on-screen.
Peter Gunn in 1967 marked the beginning of a fruitful collaboration between Mr Edwards and Mr Mancini, who composed melodic scores and songs for most of Mr Edwards’ films.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961 established Mr Edwards as a stylish director who could combine comedy with bittersweet romance. His next two films proved his versatility: The suspenseful Experiment in Terror (1962) and Days of Wine and Roses (1963), the story of a couple’s alcoholism, with Jack Lemmon in his first dramatic role.
The Great Race, about an auto race in the early 1900s, marked Mr Edwards’s first attempt at a big-budget spectacle. He spent Warner Bros’ money lavishly, raising the ire of studio boss Jack Warner. The 1965 release proved a modest success.